The Education of John Randolph

By Robert Dawidoff | Go to book overview
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5

Randolph's First
Congressional Career
John Randolph joined the Sixth Congress at Philadelphia in December 1799. He took his place with the Republican minority. The burden of congressional Republicanism at this time was the attack on Federalist programs and the administration of President John Adams. Randolph joined eagerly in this assault, and in his third congressional appearance demonstrated his peculiar talent for dramatizing an issue of principle and starting a fuss. On January 1, 1800, Randolph addressed the House in support of a bill to reduce the standing army. In the course of his speech, Randolph restated the traditional country-party anxiety about the inherent threat to liberty posed by a standing army:
It is, sir, by a cultivation of your militia alone that you can always be prepared for every species of attack. When citizen and soldier shall be synonymous terms, then will you be safe. When gentlemen attempt to alarm us with foreign dangers, they will permit me to advert to those of a domestic and more serious nature; they will suffer me to warn them against standing armies—against destroying the military spirit of the citizen, by cultivating it only in the soldier by profession; against an institution to which has wrought the downfall of every free state, and rivetted the fetters of despotism....

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